| January 13, 2020 10:05 PM
The Houston Astros are an organization with a lot of dirt, but they did the right thing on Monday afternoon after Major League Baseball handed them well-deserved punishments.
The Astros are the organization that traded for a player when he was suspended for domestic violence (Roberto Osuna). They are the team that had a sexist assistant general manager (Brandon Taubman) fired during the playoffs. And they are the team that had a first baseman (Yuli Gurriel) suspended for making a racist gesture at Yu Darvish.
Additionally, the team used electronics to steal signs from other teams during their 2017 World Series championship season. Sign stealing is not against the rules of Major League Baseball, but using electronics during the game to do so is not allowed.
With the report out from Jeff Passan confirming the Astros cheated and with MLB handing them hefty penalties, the team went ahead and fired their general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch. Both were suspended by the league for a year, anyway, so the team would need to fill both of those jobs. Additionally, the MLB fined the team $5 million, and the team will not have a first- or second-round pick in the MLB draft over the next two years.
BREAKING: Houston Astros GM Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch have been suspended for one year after an MLB investigation found the team used technology to cheat during its World Series-winning 2017 season, sources familiar with the punishment tell ESPN.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan)
January 13, 2020
Unlike the Osuna case, where the Astros put winning above all else, the organization showed an ounce of decency by canning these two men who hurt the integrity of the game. Surely, public perception had something to do with it, but they took heat for getting Osuna, and it didn’t stop them. If another team cheated, like the Astros in the playoffs against them, perhaps the outcome of some of their games, particularly in the playoffs, would have been different. It does taint the success the team had in 2017.
Additionally, it would make sense if the Boston Red Sox did the same thing now. Their manager, Alex Cora, was the bench coach on the 2017 Astros World Series championship team. His 2018 championship-winning Boston Red Sox had essentially the same accusations lobbed toward them.
Passan specifically mentioned Cora by name as someone involved with helping the Astros cheat in 2017. That said, it’s no wonder his team also cheated the following season. Maybe they wouldn’t be World Series champs either if not for their cheating.
As for vacating World Series titles or wins, that would be ridiculous. The NCAA does it as punishments for teams, and it’s an extremely empty gesture and would not change anything that’s happened. The Red Sox won the World Series in 2018. The Astros won it in 2017. Anyone who watched the games saw it happen. The fans and teams felt the euphoria of a championship. Denying it happened wouldn’t make it any less true.
Instead, the MLB hindered the future of the Astros by hitting their payroll and their draft. This makes it harder for them to win another World Series in the future, which is the more pragmatic solution at this point.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to play these games over, so the outcome has to be accepted. The people responsible for orchestrating it should not be working in baseball again, and all 30 teams should be investigated to see if they committed similar offenses. If the best teams have wrongdoing, it’s possible they are not alone.
Tom Joyce (@TomJoyceSports) is a freelance writer who has been published with USA Today, the Boston Globe, Newsday, ESPN, the Detroit Free Press, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Federalist, and a number of other media outlets.